How Efforts to Mitigate Your Damages Can Help You Recover Damages in a Personal Injury Claim
According to the legal doctrine of mitigation, every person who suffers a personal injury has a duty to act to avoid additional damage and reduce the effects of the injury. An injured person is also required to act with due diligence when choosing a health care provider or plan of treatment for his injuries.
The Mitigation Principle
Under the mitigation of damages rule, you are legally required to mitigate your damages the way any reasonable person in a similar situation would. If you neglect to do so, you could lose your right to any or all of the damages that you might otherwise have recovered. This means avoiding any of the following lapses.
Failing to seek medical attention. After an accident, you need to seek medical attention in a prompt or timely manner — whether or not you think you have been injured — or risk being unable to recover damages. Although a delay in seeking medical treatment may seem reasonable if the injury is minor or not immediately apparent, you will reduce your ability to recover damages if it is proven that the delay exacerbated your injury.
Failing to undergo recommended surgery. If your doctor recommends surgery as the preferred method for treating your injury, you are within your rights to refuse to consent to it. However, you may not be able to recover damages for any injury (including a permanent injury) that could have been avoided (or diminished) through the recommended surgery or other form of treatment.
Failing to comply with medical advice. If your doctor or other medical professional recommends a course of treatment, but you refuse it or otherwise ignore your doctor’s advice, you will lose the ability to recover damages for conditions that arise or worsen because of your refusal if a reasonable person would have followed the advice.
Pursuing alternative treatment. If you try alternative treatments like holistic and homeopathic remedies instead of the more mainstream medical treatment recommended by your doctor, your choice may seem unreasonable to persons judging your case and may lead to a reduction in the amount of damages you recover.
Failing to seek employment. You may believe that you are enhancing your claim for lost income if your injuries prevent you from returning to your usual line of work and you do not seek other work or do not accept lower-paying work. In fact, though, you could be failing to mitigate your damages and thus reducing your potential for recovery.
The liable party is responsible only for the injuries that he caused. If you make your condition worse through your own negligence, you cannot expect him to pay for the additional damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in Colorado, contact personal injury attorney Dan Rosen at (303) 454-8000 or (800) ROSEN-911 for a free consultation.